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Birla Fertility & IVF

What Triggers Early Menopause? Reasons and How to Manage Them

  • Published on June 27, 2024
What Triggers Early Menopause? Reasons and How to Manage Them

Imagine waking up one day, well before your 40th birthday, to find yourself experiencing symptoms typically associated with menopause. For many women, this scenario isn’t just hypothetical; it’s a reality. Early menopause, also known as premature menopause, can be a daunting and unexpected transition for many females before 40.

Though, menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that typically occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. As per the National Institute of Health (NIH), early menopause or premature menopause affects 1% of women under the age of 40 years. The causes of early menopause may differ from one woman to another. But, most women with early menopause are at risk of premature death, neurological diseases, psychosexual dysfunction, mood disorders, osteoporosis, ischemic heart disease and infertility. In this article, let’s understand the significant causes of early menopause, its symptoms, and the treatment options to ease this challenging transition.

Causes of Early Menopause

The causes of early menopause may vary from one individual to another depending on their age and underlying condition. For women, transitioning into this phase can be challenging. Hence it may lead to significant implications on their overall health and fertility. Some of the common causes of early menopause are:

  • Genetic Factors: It is one of the significant causes of early menopause. Menopause age is largely influenced by genetics. If a woman’s mother or sibling went through early menopause, there is a higher likelihood she might get it too.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease can cause the immune system to attack the ovaries, resulting in early menopause.
  • Medical Treatments: Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer can harm the ovaries and cause early menopause. Additionally, surgeries for ovaries or uterus removal can cause early menopause.
  • Chromosomal Abnormalities:  Turner syndrome and Fragile X syndrome are genetic disorders that cause premature ovarian failure, leading to early menopause. 
  • Unhealthy Lifestyle Factors: Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle can accelerate the onset of menopause. High levels of stress and inadequate nutrition are also major causes of early menopause.
  • Infections: Certain infections such as mumps, tuberculosis, and malaria, have been linked to early menopause or premature ovarian failure.

Symptoms of Premature Menopause

Some symptoms that suggest the onset of of premature menopause can impact the quality of life causing significant discomfort as well. Some of the common symptoms of premature menopause are:

Symptom Description
Irregular Periods Changes in menstrual cycle patterns, such as irregular or missed periods, are among the early indications of menopause.
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats Sudden sensations of heat, particularly at night, can impair sleep.
Mood Changes Increased irritability, anxiety, or depression are a few early signs of menopause.
Vaginal Dryness Low estrogen levels can cause dryness, discomfort and pain during intercourse.
Decreased Libido Lower sex drive is a common symptom of early menopause.
Cognitive Changes High possibility of developing memory related problems and having difficulty concentrating.
Sudden Bodily Changes Irregular weight gain, irregular weight loss, thinning hair, and dry skin are also associated with menopause.

Relationship Between Early Menopause and Fertility

Early menopause on triggered can significantly impact fertility as it leads to a decrease in the number and quality of eggs. Women experiencing the onset of early menopause might face challenges in conceiving naturally. However, there are options available:

Early menopause can have a substantial impact on fertility since it reduces the quantity and quality of eggs. Women going through early menopause may struggle to conceive naturally. However, there are a few treatment options available for assisted reproduction, such as.

  • Egg Freezing: Techniques for fertility preservation such as egg freezing can be considered if early menopause is diagnosed before a woman is ready to conceive.
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART): Options like in vitro fertilization (IVF) combined with donor eggs can be an effective treatment method for women with early menopause.
  • Surrogacy: Surrogacy and adoption are two viable options for women affected by early menopause.

Lifestyle Modifications to Ease the Transition

Lifestyle Modifications to Ease the Transition

Transitioning into menopause can be challenging for most women, including those who enter into the phase prematurely. But some simple lifestyle modifications  can help you alleviate discomfort, some of them are:

  • Healthy Diet: Save your body from depletion of nutrients. Following a healthy diet, rich in calcium, vitamin D, and phytoestrogens can help manage this effectively. . Food items like leafy greens, dairy products, and soy are beneficial for women affected by early menopause.
  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can not only help maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI), but also help reduce stress, and improve mood swings. Additionally, weight-bearing exercises are effective for bone health
  • No  Smoking: Smoking cessation can delay the onset of menopause and reduce the symptoms of early menopause.
  • Stress Management: Practicing yoga, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises can help in alleviating stress and improve overall well-being.
  • Adequate Sleep: Establishing a regular sleep routine and creating a comfortable sleep environment can help you manage night sweats and improve your sleep quality.

Treatment Options for Early Menopause

Here are a few treatment options that can help you manage early menopause:

    • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): HRT is commonly used to relieve menopausal symptoms by replenishing estrogen and progesterone levels. Doctors usually prescribe pills, patches, gels, or creams to reduce the symptoms of early menopause.
    • Non-Hormonal Medications: Antidepressants and anti-seizure medications are prescribed for symptoms of early menopause and are effective in managing hot flashes and mood swings.
    • Vaginal Estrogen: For vaginal dryness and discomfort, doctors recommend low-dose estrogen, which can be applied directly to the vaginal area through creams, tablets, or rings.
    • Bone Health Management: To prevent osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D supplements, along with medications like bisphosphonates, may be recommended.
  • Herbal Remedies: Some women find relief with herbal supplements like black cohosh, evening primrose oil, and red clover. However, no research proves it, so it is essential to consult with your doctor before starting any herbal treatment.

Conclusion

In India, awareness and access to medical care are improving, making it possible for women to receive the support they need during this transition. Early menopause can be a challenging transition, but understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatments can help women manage this phase more effectively. To combat symptoms of early menopause, adopting a healthy lifestyle, seeking appropriate medical treatments, and staying informed can be very helpful. With the help of such options, women can navigate the challenges of early menopause and maintain their quality of life.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3634232/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4928547/

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/menopause

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Why does early menopause happen?

Genetic factors, autoimmune illnesses, certain medical treatments such as chemotherapy, or underlying health issues can all cause early menopause. However, sometimes the cause of early menopause is unknown.

  • Can early menopause be cured?

No. Early menopause can not be cured, although the symptoms of premature menopause can be managed. Some of the methods are hormone replacement treatment (HRT) and lifestyle adjustments that can help to reduce them while enhancing the quality of life.

  • Is early menopause hereditary?

Yes, early menopause can be hereditary. If your mother or sister experienced early menopause, you might be at a higher risk of going through it early as well.

  • How does early menopause affect fertility?

Early menopause can significantly impact your fertility by reducing the number of viable eggs. Once early menopause gets triggered, natural conception becomes very difficult, necessitating assisted reproductive technologies for those couples who wish to conceive.

Written by:
Dr. Shilpi Srivastva

Dr. Shilpi Srivastva

Consultant
With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Shilpi Srivastva is an expert in the field of IVF and reproductive medicine. She has been at the forefront of innovative developments in reproductive medicine and IVF technology and has won various awards in her field.
Noida, Uttar Pradesh

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